Love

Anyone who knows me knows that my pups are pretty important to me and source of great joy in my life.  Ever since I started living on my own I have had at least one dog.  For a while, whilst I lived in Texas with my big backyard and house I was actually up to 3 dogs and a cat.

In the more recent ears (until about 5 years ago) I had just one dog and a cat.  Boeing (dog) & Milo (cat).  Boeing & Milo loved each other and were great friends and playmates.

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Then Sky joined our life!

The Kids flat
Sky Boeing & Milo all got along perfectly!  There was a little period of getting to know each other for Milo (the cat) and Sky.  But both quickly accepted one another.  Boeing never had a problem with Sky.  Boeing was about 14 years old when I got Sky who was still essentially a puppy .  Sky was about a year old when I brought her home.

When Boeing passed away it became very obvious that Sky did not like to be left alone and so I found a puppy for us all on petfinder.com.  Zulu was about 8 weeks old when we picked him up and has proved to be the perfect complement to our family.  Zulu has always been completely comfortable being left at home when I have to go to work or other places and as such has made Sky more comfortable being without me.  Sky and Zulu bonded instantly and they just live to love one another and enjoy life!

Dogs love and give so unconditionally that they are truly a terrific example for us humans who can sometimes get caught up in petty differences!  Thanks Sky, Zulu & Boeing for always being so loving to one another and to me.  Love is reflected in Love and they live and express that idea unconditionally!

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One of the special things about Zulu is the way he seems to know exactly which people to approach for love and which dogs to approach.  I have seem him run up towards people with his tail wagging only to realise before getting to close that they weren’t dog people and turn around without hurt feelings as though he had never even headed their way.  He reads people 2015-11-12 11.38.04-3
and dogs amazingly well and one of his dear friends from the day he met her is Tilly, the harbourmasters’ dog.  Tilly is at least 12-13 yr old and from the day he met her Zulu has always rushed up to her and showered her in kisses.  Tilly has been having a rough go of it for the past couple of years but more often than not, Zulu’s adoration perks Tilly up and at times she even runs to greet him too!

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I am so blessed to have these pups in my life and grateful for all the good times and even the challenging times.  They weren’t the perfect dogs out of the box and they are still very individual.  They are good dogs and rarely get in trouble or get me in trouble 🙂

Dogs, Racoons and Rural living

remote_harbourLiving in a rural area as I do means living in the vicinity/proximity of wildlife.  We have deer, turkeys, rats, raccoons, snakes  and even a mountain lion has been sighted on occasion.   My dogs for the most part stay reasonably close by but once they get the scent for something to chase -well the chase is on!  At night time I have lights for them to wear.  Super bright led lights.  Sky my Australian Shepherd wears the red lights and Zulu the green lights so I can easily tell them apart when they are running in the dark.

Last Tuesday when I got home from work at about 11pm after a double shift I had plans to take the pups for a brief walk around our marina.  Mostly just over to the beach but not too far from my dock.

We had barely started our walk when Zulu, my 48lb Catahoula took off and ran all the way up to the habour master’s house.  I could see his green lights from his collar going crazy as if he was in a fight with something (wild animal) but without the noise from his adversary.

I ran to his aid.  (This is the first time I have attempted running since my ankle tendon replacement surgery last July – and I mentally took note of this and mentally said a short prayer for both myself and the pup).  I was terrified that he was being injured by his prey which I could only assume to be the most common of our night critters, the raccoon.

Anyone who has encountered the cute little raccoon up close knows that there cuteness is generally racoon (1)accompanied by a ferocious claw and a temperament that is not prone to surrender.  They are vicious animals in the up close and personal!  This does not mean that I wish harm on the raccoon -only that that their cuteness must be accompanied by a wariness for their viciousness.

Zulu by nature is a hunting/prey driven animal.  He is almost 5 years old now and has become far more of a ‘home-body’ than even me.  He used to be gone for hours in his hunting explorations but now he comes almost instantly when called, and stays closer to home than my Australian Shepherd (known for her desire to be invisibly underfoot – like in your blind-spot-step-on-the-poor-dog zone!!) Zulu was right in the middle of this audible altercation and not backing down and I was scared and running ! 

I came upon Zulu and his foe.  They were in open space right under me.  I was yelling at Zulu to drop the raccoon and simultaneously trying to kick the racoon – they were really right in the middle of the drive and literally under foot.  Reason set in with me and I realised that the only sounds of distress were coming from zuluthe raccoon.  Ideally I would have loved for both animals to walk away unharmed but in this circumstance I had to root for Zulu and pray he would be ok.  He apprantly had the raccoon in a death grip and the two of them circled and circled through the brush and up and down a small crest of hill.  The harbour masters’ son, Mark, heard our calls of distress -(mostly mine) but the dog’s & raccoon’s as well and came out with a shotgun in hand.  He warned me that it would be loud but there was really nothing to be done until Zulu released the raccoon and that didn’t happen until Zulu felt he had won.

Mark yelled at Zulu to get out of the way and then put the raccoon out of his misery.  I don’t think either Mark or myself had any pleasure or desire to see any living being having to be shot but as the circumstances warranted this deemed the only humane solution and I do thank Mark for being there and helping to end the altercation.

I was so grateful that my other dog Sky, my Australian Shepherd did not attempt to go to Zulu’s aid or get involved.  After it was all said and done the three of us, Zulu, Sky & myself headed back home.  Zulu, as if another day in the life and nothing had happened stopped to relieve himself in a matter of fact way.  I personally was rather shaken up and in disbelief.

Ever since that day I have found a way to have the pups on leash after about 6 pm.  It gets dark around 430 or 5 pm.  I really don’t want to be in this situation with either of my dogs again and was an idiot for not having had them on leash at the time.  Lights or not raccoons are probably our most dangerous foe in the immediate neighbourhood.  Yes there is the mountain lion we have seen and the occasional coyote over the years but in all honesty the most viable threat in the immediate vicinity and regular appearance would be the raccoon.  As sorry as I am to see a life lost in the situation (the raccoon’s) I remain grateful that it was small enough (about 10-15lbs) for Zulu to be the victor in this instance.

2015-01-12 17.10.17-2We live in a remote area where wildlife, humans and pets must find ways to coexist.  The raccoons and the rats eat the trash in the outside trash cans and the dogs keep the boundaries defined.  The humans remind the dogs that there are boundaries and the dogs remind the humans that there are wildlife.  We all have a purpose and a meaning – for today I am just grateful Zulu was the winner and is an especially good rat hunter and keeping those rodents off the docks and at bay!

Summary of my unplanned Carmel Vacation in Carmel

2015-11-07 10.17.04-1My trip to Carmel was meant to really just be an overnight quick getaway.  I had no intention of spending 3 nights there by any means, but, that is just what I did.   In general I am not really a person who knows how to go on vacation and get away from the miscellaneous things that need to be done at home.  Although my dogs are with me all the time at home around my place, it is a whole different thing to be going on vacation with them and focusing on activities that all three of us can do together.  At home my dogs only come with me when the weather is good and even then I don’t usually eat out with them or do much more with them than take them to work or to the beach or a park.

In Carmel, I never left the dogs behind in the hotel room or the car.  They went to all my meals except for my first dinner.  They went to parks with me and then the best of all to be able to hang out with me in the Cypress Hotel Lounge and just lie there on the carpet whilst the different performers played was perfect.  The dogs first meal out on this trip to Carmel was at the Forge in the Forest Restaurant.  They were a little restless at first but loved their chicken strips dinner which I ordered for them from the canine cuisine menu.

Overall they were real angels and though I say that with prejudice I am being quite honest in my assessment of GRPark_2015-11-05-13.52their behaviour.  I received a number of compliments on their behaviour even from other dog owners.

One lady said she had been advised against getting a dog such as an Australian shepherd because they are so much work and so high strung.  I really have never had any trouble with them in public places.  I brought them both to Carmel when Zulu was less than a year old and even back then they were both on their best behaviour.  I suppose the real key is to let them have adequate activity and play time before trying to get them to sit still.

 

Friday evening really was the highlight of our stay and I’m glad we hung out another day.  Debbie Davis was the zulu_debbie_2015-11-06-19.30.12performer accompanied by pianist Gennady Loktionov.  Gennady is well known Clint Eastwood’s music arranger and he is a phenomenal musician.  Debbie and Gennady performed for 3 hours without break on Friday and evening and Debbie did an amazing job of engaging her audience.  There was one dog who stole the show from them and that was a Rhodesian Ridgeback.  The dog was humongous and Debbie told the owner that he would need to stay off the main part of the floor so as to not trip her.  If you check out the pictures below you’ll see this dog tried to make its home in the smallest of cushions and later the owner wound up relinquishing his seat for the dog.  I wasn’t real impressed to see the dog get on one of the lounge chairs and make himself at home but no one seemed to mind and he really did steal the show!!

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Carmel Vacation, The Birthday Party (night 2)

hdr_00003_1After our great dinner at Forge in the Forest and a quick walk on themastiff_cake beach to enjoy the sunset we headed over to the Cypress Inn.  Cypress Inn is known for their Dog Friendliness!  They did not disappoint.  There was a dog that
had just turned 3 that was fortunate enough to have his birthday party at the Cypress!  Just take a look at his birthday cake.
There was a great music for most of the evening provided by Lee Durley & Joe Indence. The music was a jazzy laid back style and very relaxing and enjoyable. Cypress_Thurs_2015-11-05-19.21
We went back to the hotel and checked into a new room (number 22) for the night.  I had observed that the cottage across from the one I stayed in the first night had a really cool little patio that backed up to empty land and woods.  This is the best little cottage.  Love the patio and the amenities!

 

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The unplanned vacation. Day 2 (Nov 5th, 2015)

Day 2 began with a 9am breakfast with Dana & Kurt.  We all went for a quick walk on the beach afterwards and Dana & Kurt headed on home to Southern California.  I had intended to leave after 1 night and head back home.  Then I realised, I really had nothing pressing at home and could actually use some true decompression time.  Why not stay another night!

The pups and I went to Garland Ranch Regional Park  where we enjoyed a couple of hours of exploring.

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W2015-11-05 16.03.59e had dinner at Forge in the Forest and when I say we had dinner that’s what I mean!!  They had the Hen House  Chicken Strips and had no problem wolfing them down in a hurry!!  I ate here before a few years ago and have to say that the previous visit seemed more dog-friendly.  Last time there were stainless steel dog dishes and the staff didn’t act afraid of the dogs.  The staff on duty on this particular night seemed to dread the dogs on patio even though this is one of the things they cater to.  Sky and Zulu were not deterred and enjoyed their dinner and I enjoyed my dinner very much as well.  There was nice fire place going on the patio and all the patrons, with or without dogs were very friendly.

 

 

Working Dogs – and the Security System!

I work nights at the Oakland airport where the year round average temperature is about 65 degrees F (18 C).  There is always a breeze blowing and basically the weather is the primary reason I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area.  I drive a small toyota truck with an extended cab and nice camper shell on the back.  I have 2 wonderful dogs that go with me almost everywhere.  They only accompany me when the weather is conducive.  Having lived in Texas for about 12 years I am well aware of the dangers of a hot vehicle and as far as I am concerned any vehicle parked in the sun when the outside temperature is above about 65 deg is too hot for my dogs.  I work graveyard shift, the overnight shift, so I can have my dogs accompany me to work and hang out in the back of my truck while I work.

I have a 10 hour shift and with 2 hours for driving….if I left them home they would be home alone wondering where I am for 12 hours and no way to go outside or eat etc … In my current situation they have a huge bed in the back of my truck, 3 water bowls, they get to go outside at least once a night usually at least 2 or 3 times and they get to stop at dog parks on the way to and from work.  There has been one night that I deemed to be too hot to take them (last night) – not because of the outside temperature but rather the accumulated temperature of my vehicle over the day seemed to me that it would take too long to cool down so I did not want to have them in the vehicle for the possible 1 hour of slight discomfort.

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This is the picture of their encampment in the back of my truck.  The bed is a PVC frame with 2 large couch type cushions on top.  It is super soft and they seem to sleep in about every position on this bed!  It measures about 4 1/2 feet square! Windows all around and newly cleaned blankets almost daily.

I park in an area of the employee parking where I am allowed to back in.  My goal is that if the dogs bark at anyone – for example getting into their car, I impact the fewest amount of people.  The most people I could impact are about 2.  A person parked on either side of me.  No one can park behind me.  There is a dirt run right behind which I use to walk the dogs at night.  I was concerned that maybe my dogs barked more than I thought so I found a way to add cameras to my truck and have a camera aimed on the dogs and at the time of the incident I am about to speak of there was a  camera aiming forward out of my vehicle so I could see people walking by in the event my dogs barked at them

The following 3 videos show what took place at 0135 am on the morning of August 3rd, 2015.  The employee bus had just passed my car at 1:28 am as seen in the still picture.

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Employee bus passing my truck at 1:28 am

 

People would have been let out at the bus stop about 50 ft behind the location of the bus as it is driving away from that bus stop.

This video was taken at 1:32am -the dogs are awake, looking around -not barking.


This video was taken a minute later. Dogs awake and aware but still not barking or agitated in any way.

Now Check out this video and see how quickly things change!!


This video was at 1:35am. I now have a video camera aimed on the back door of truck. It appears to me from the video that some unsuspecting person decided to try and open the vehicle and did not realise there were dogs inside. As they started to open the back hatch of the truck Sky, the white Australian Shepherd lunged at the door and them and pushed the door the rest of the way open and Zulu decided to follow along for the heck of it I guess.  Now I keep the camper shell locked and have a camera aimed at the back door in the event someone tries this again.  The security system was definitely effective.  Whoever it was was scared off by the dog coming at him or her … Sky ran and was on the outside of the parking lot fence when I go there. Zulu stayed right behind the truck.  I reailised they were gone about 10 minutes after it happened and rushed out to the parking lot to see why my dogs were not in the truck.  The back camper shell door was open and the video evidence I was able to review later gave me a better sense of the chain of events short of having an actual suspect.

I called the police to see if they had any surveillance outside the vehicle.  They didn’t and their thought was that someone who heard my dogs barking and felt sorry for my dogs let them out.  If you look at all three videos the main thing you should notice is that if anything- they did not notice the person who had to have come up from behind my vehicle to open it.  There were no barks ahead of time -only the barks when they were surprised by the intruder.  Hopefully that person has learned better than to open other peoples vehicles and I now lock the camper shell to avoid such intrusions!

Here’s a video of their ride to work – my truck could use some better shocks!  But they seem to be enjoying the ride and the view

And here is Zulu making himself comfortable –making his bed – as you can see ample room for both pups!

I do love my dogs -they are my family and though it would be more convenient for me to leave them at home when I work -but would that really be the humane thing to do.  Left at home wondering for 12 hours where I am .I had to leave them home the other night because it was just too hot.  They seem more on guard and less restful than they do at work …

I had the videos on them of course- Zulu slept peacefully as usual but Sky was vigilant all night long -pacing looking and listening and staying on perpetual guard.  As you can see the size of the bed they chose to sleep in is actually slightly smaller than the one in my truck.  They chose to sleep outside on my other boat as opposed to inside out of the weather.  It was hot inside so I don’t blame them for wanting a little breeze …

I know I’m crazy about my dogs and maybe a bit crazy otherwise but they are worth it.  Right now as I write this, Zulu is sound asleep in his bed and Sky -always needing to know where I am is asleep at the foot of my bed with her head on my leg so she knows my every move.  She is so faithful!!

 

A lesson we all could learn

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There is so much we can all learn from one another and especially from ‘man’s best friend, the dog!.

The other day as I accompanied my pups on a walk at the beach I once again noted especially in Zulu, his innate desire to meet and greet.  As a puppy he thought he was tough and larger than he was and wound up getting out run and out smarted.  As an adult 4 year old dog he has learned the art of chivalry and perception.  He runs with joy to meet new dogs or people and seems to know when that joy might not be reciprocated.  He seems to know those humans who may not want to pet a dog and likewise those dogs who don’t want to partake in the sniff and greets.

2015-06-27 08.20.20On those times when his perceptions incline him, it is really incredible to see the interactions.  Zulu and his new found friend of the moment run up to one another and kind of crouch down nose to nose, both tails wagging.  The pose can be held for seconds until they determine if a playful chase is in order.  In quick order a friendship is made with playful interactions.

In like manner I notice us humans.  The humans with dogs seem to instinctively follow their dogs’ well-taught manners.  There is something about having a dog with you that encourages you to interact with other dog owners.  It’s rare that two dog owners can do less than at least say hello to one another as they pass.  Even people without dogs will greet you when you have a dog with you.  There are those who prefer to not interact in anyway but for the most part dogs are a great example for us all.  Dog owners always seem to find something in common to discuss.

Crissy field is my favourite place to take my dogs.  It is not a dog park per se but is a dog friendly environment where there just seem to be the best level of interactions.  I have encountered people with kids and no dogs who actually bring their kids to the beach to interact with the dogs.  The dog owners at Crissy Field seem to be the most respectful of others that I have encountered in the SF Bay Area.  The dog owners clean up after their dogs and keep their dogs away from kids and people when it seems appropriate.

I’m a shy person at heart and don’t really seek out interactions -but when with my dogs it seems natural to let the dogs play with one another and for us humans to at least follow the example of friendliness.  Dogs are great role models!  They are unconditionally loving, especially towards their food supply source.  Yes I love my dogs and love the examples they set for me and all.

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